Monday, September 5, 2011

Ethnic Hair Discrimination in the Workplace


From bad hair days, to age-defying toupees, a number of hair issues cause the average worker to consider how their tresses can affect their work. A recent case involving a Glamour Magazine employee, however, exposed the hidden management desire to trim back ethnic hair-dos.

An Associate Editor of the magazine had the harebrained idea of cautioning female colleagues that their ethnic hairstyles were fashion faux-pas that associated the women with political movements of the past.

Ethnic tresses have stirred up stress in the workplace as the media and image consultants subtly communicate the desire to employ women considered to have ‘commercially beautiful white hairstyles’. With their locks on the chopping block, women of various ethnicities are being challenged to exchange their dreads, cornrows, or afro for the white hair status quo.

Extensions and highlights ignite a controversial question about image in the workplace, and what a hairstyle represents. Melissa Theodore, a New York City accountant, notes that not everyone in corporate America respects the right to bear ethnic hairstyles of choice.

The list of discrimination cases of this kind in the Western World is longer than Repunzel’s locks.

Hairy workers are happy workers! A 10-country survey showed that two-thirds of females between the ages of 15 and 64 will not engage in normal activities if they feel badly about their looks. On the flipside, it can be deducted that a worker who feels good about herself is most likely to be productive at work. If that means sporting an ethnic hairstyle, then so be it.

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